The Reverend John MacLeod was a prominent minister in the Free Church (Continuing) who served his parish for 42 years.
Mr MacLeod, 72, died suddenly last week, having taken ill while on his way from the manse to adjust the notice board at Tarbat Church, centred on the village of Portmahomack.
It was there he was ordained and inducted in 1978.
Mr MacLeod was moderator of the church’s General Assembly in 2006 and was appointed moderator-designate of the 2020 assembly, which was deferred during the pandemic.
He had also been the assembly’s principal clerk since 2000.
Born in Fearn, he graduated from Aberdeen University and worked for two years for an Edinburgh Insurance company before beginning studies for the ministry.
After leaving the Free Church College in 1974, he worked with students in Aberdeen before spending two years preaching in North America.
While there, he met and married Joy Morrison, a native of Prince Edward Island, whose forebears had left the island of Handa in Sutherland in the mid-19th century.
The couple have nine children and 14 grandchildren.
A keen singer, Mr MacLeod showed a great enthusiasm for teaching Psalm singing.
He was also involved in broadcasting in Canada and Scotland.
His hobbies listed in Who’s Who in Scotland include ‘squeezing quarts into pint pots’ and ‘getting blood out of stones’.
During the division in the Free Church, he joined the Free Church (Continuing) which was formed in 2000, and held many clerkships within the church.
Two years ago a ceremony was held to mark the 40th anniversary of his induction at Tarbat.
A colleague, Rev Graeme Craig said: “The sudden passing of Mr MacLeod has stunned the whole of the FCC and left a gaping void.
“He was knowledgeable and gifted in so many areas of life and helped guide the Church during many difficult times.”
Local councillor Alasdair Rhind also paid tribute, saying: “John MacLeod was the heart of the community at Portmahomack.
“He was of high integrity and a well-respected minister and community leader in that community and beyond.
“He played a pivotal role in the Free Church (Continuing) and his loss will be immense to the church and the community of Portmahomack and Easter Ross generally.
“He was involved in so many things. It is hard to see how they will carry on the same without John MacLeod.”